UL: Targeting kindergarten: Sununu offers sound compromise

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The Union Leader Editorial Board ran an oped about Governor Sununu’s proposal to target funding for full-day kindergarten programs. Read the full text:

If we had our druthers, towns that wanted to offer full-day public kindergarten would pay for the program themselves.

But we don’t always get our way. Gov. Chris Sununu’s proposal is to target state kindergarten aid to towns based on financial need. Property-poor towns, and communities with higher percentages of low-income families, would get more state aid, while wealthier towns would continue to receive state adequacy payments for a half-day of kindergarten.

The plan would spend an additional $18 million over two years. Increasing aid to every town in the state would cost $26 million. Lawmakers wanting to expand the grants to every town need to show where they would cut $8 million in spending, or raise $8 million in taxes.

Mark Shriver, president of Save the Children Action Network, writes in support of the targeting plan today (Click here to read it.) His organization backed Democrat Colin Van Ostern last fall, in large part because of the full-day kindergarten issue.

Sununu’s decision is not driven solely by fiscal scarcity. Targeting state aid ensures that full-day kindergarten won’t get roped into the never-ending legal battle over education funding.

Every tweak to the state education funding formula sends towns scurrying back to court to fight for a bigger piece of the pie.

Targeting state aid based on need rightfully puts full-day kindergarten outside the “adequate education” obligation that the New Hampshire Supreme Court invented several years ago.

Get our synopsis of the Governor’s proposal here, or read the full Union Leader editorial here.